Next Article in Journal
Comparison of Socioeconomic Factors between Surrounding and Non-Surrounding Areas of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway before and after Its Construction
Previous Article in Journal
Self-Adaptive Revised Land Use Regression Models for Estimating PM2.5 Concentrations in Beijing, China
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Urban Expansion and Agricultural Land Loss in China: A Multiscale Perspective

Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, Ministry of Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra 2601, Australia
Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Linnaeus Way, Canberra 2601, Australia
School of Remote Sensing and Information Engineering, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China
College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 790;
Received: 25 May 2016 / Revised: 5 August 2016 / Accepted: 8 August 2016 / Published: 11 August 2016
PDF [7532 KB, uploaded 11 August 2016]


China’s rapid urbanization has contributed to a massive agricultural land loss that could threaten its food security. Timely and accurate mapping of urban expansion and urbanization-related agricultural land loss can provide viable measures to be taken for urban planning and agricultural land protection. In this study, urban expansion in China from 2001 to 2013 was mapped using the nighttime stable light (NSL), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and water body data. Urbanization-related agricultural land loss during this time period was then evaluated at national, regional, and metropolitan scales by integrating multiple sources of geographic data. The results revealed that China’s total urban area increased from 31,076 km2 in 2001 to 80,887 km2 in 2013, with an average annual growth rate of 13.36%. This widespread urban expansion consumed 33,080 km2 of agricultural land during this period. At a regional scale, the eastern region lost 18,542 km2 or 1.2% of its total agricultural land area. At a metropolitan scale, the Shanghai–Nanjing–Hangzhou (SNH) and Pearl River Delta (PRD) areas underwent high levels of agricultural land loss with a decrease of 6.12% (4728 km2) and 6.05% (2702 km2) of their total agricultural land areas, respectively. Special attention should be paid to the PRD, with a decline of 13.30% (1843 km2) of its cropland. Effective policies and strategies should be implemented to mitigate urbanization-related agricultural land loss in the context of China’s rapid urbanization. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban expansion; agricultural land loss; nighttime light data; China urban expansion; agricultural land loss; nighttime light data; China

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material


Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Shi, K.; Chen, Y.; Yu, B.; Xu, T.; Li, L.; Huang, C.; Liu, R.; Chen, Z.; Wu, J. Urban Expansion and Agricultural Land Loss in China: A Multiscale Perspective. Sustainability 2016, 8, 790.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top